Initiated last year by Military Families Speak Out, a group of over 2,000 military families with sons and daughters serving in Iraq, Vermont lawmakers have been moved to consider a measure that would reclaim the state's right to authority over National Guard deployment, claiming that the original reasons for deployment (WMD's) have proven unfounded.
Vermont lawmakers, who passed the first state resolution calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq last year, are now pushing a bill disputing federal authority to continue using Vermont National Guard soldiers in the war.A spokesman for Vermont Gov. James Douglas called the bill "a waste of time," but supporters argue that longstanding effects on Vermont National Guard enrollment due to extended deployment in Iraq are a state, not federal issue.
The federal use of Vermont guard soldiers in Iraq was allowed under the 2002 authorization of the use of force in Iraq. But the justification for that permission – the threat from the state of Iraq and the need to enforce United Nations resolutions – has since expired, said Rep. Michael Fisher, D-Lincoln.
"The president no longer has the authority to command the Vermont National Guard in Iraq," Fisher said.
The bill Fisher will introduce today would begin the process of ending the involvement of Vermont National Guard members in Iraq, and has nearly 30 co-sponsors in the House, he said. Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, also supports the measure and said he will do what he can to move a version of the bill in the Senate.
"The question was not should Vermont guard members be mediating a civil war in Iraq," Shumlin said. "We can make cases for mediating civil wars all over the world. Let's have the debate."Several other states are now considering similar measures to reclaim Nation Guard troops for domestic use.
"Vermont has led in the past. When we lead others follow,"